Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Texas 2023 Defensive Lineman Riley Van Poppel Gets Family Feeling at Nebraska

March 12, 2022

The Huskers are always on the hunt for big bodies that can play in the trenches. Texas defensive lineman Riley Van Poppel (6-4, 270) had hoped to get to Lincoln for a visit this spring. He made the trip for the team’s Junior Day last on March 5. He loved getting to see everything that Nebraska had to offer.

“What stood out was the culture of Nebraska football and just the intensity of practice,” Van Poppel said. “But also, how the staff is, they are very family feeling and good people which I liked.”

Van Poppel was able to talk with defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and defensive front coach Mike Dawson the most on the trip. He also got a chance to speak with coach Scott Frost while he was in Lincoln. His time with Dawson stood out since that would be his position coach if he committed to Nebraska.

“I’ve talked to him on the phone, text and all that stuff but getting to see him actually coach was eye opening to me,” Van Poppel said. “I got to sit in a meeting with him, watch how he goes through meetings. I got to stand on the field. I got to watch how he coaches in live action so I loved seeing that.”

Van Poppel enjoyed talking football with Dawson after practice too. The pair went over defensive line techniques Dawson’s knowleged impressed him. It was important to the Texas native that they also bonded over more than just football. He’s also been in frequent contact with Chinander. He was the coach that offered him a Nebraska scholarship. Getting the chance to speak with those coaches face-to-face and many other Nebraska staffers made a big impression on Van Poppel.

“Everyone has a different story. So, I’m hearing from all these different coaches [at Nebraska] and their journeys and where they came from and how they see things from their eyes,” Van Poppel said. “It’s cool because you get to see it from so many different perspectives. You’re not stuck talking to one person the whole time you’re there.”

If Van Poppel’s name sounds familiar it’s because his father Todd was a major league baseball player from 1993-2004. Todd made the trip to Lincoln with Riley and was excited to check things out with his son.

“He loved it. He was excited,” Riley said. “He was alive back when Nebraska was college football. So, he remembers that. He knows that they’re getting to that point now. It was cool for him to go see it and be around because he’s been to Nebraska a few times. He was excited to get to go up there and see everything with me and just go through it all. Go through the process with me, so he liked it.”

Riley isn’t sure if he will make it back to Lincoln for the spring game. He does know that he wants to get back to Lincoln as soon as possible. He’s up to 13 scholarship offers now, including offers from Washington, Colorado and Cal. He has three main things that he is looking for as he evaluates schools.

“My three biggest things are that I can go somewhere that provides a high level of football for me to play,” Riley said. “Also a school that has good academics and I can get a good degree. Then that the place feels like home and is surrounded with good people.”

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